In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

REVIEWS La Frontera. Ed Friedman. Disclosure on All and Everything (Part 1). Larry Miller. Aleatoire Je Ne Sais Quoi, Ralston Farina. The Kitchen (April-May). Within three weeks, Friedman, Miller, and Farina presented solo lecture-dem/ comedy performances at the Kitchen like the separated parts of a Soho vaudeville program. Each monologist was accompanied by the usual media aids: film, slides, recorded music, props. Each set up his show along the Kitchen's long wall to place himself close to all of audience for maximum comic feedback. Apart from these general similarities, each act proved yet again that while this basic performance format can accommvdate any kind of subject matter, even these simple terms call for material appropriate to the framework's length and structure. Writer Ed Friedman's La Fronterawas a performance poem unnecessarily stretched to novella length on the rack of convention , i.e., that an evening's entertainment must be of certain minimum length to justify the audience's time and money. This Procrustean job had the intent of all such unnatural re-shapings, that of torturing a slight, fragile idea (here, an English class for illegal aliens) into a Big Statement (Bad Language Equals Bad Social Position ). Friedman presented himself as a teacher who called on his "class" (accomplices seated in the front rows of the audience) to recite aloud the Spanish-inflected , phonetically spelled-out sentences projected on slides, thereby "learning" a kind of Desi Arnaz English. Built on a running joke of sassy immigrant sayings coupled with Kim MacConnel's faux-naif, cartoon-like drawings, this gimmick initially came across as a clever performance idea with a dash of modest social comment. However, La Fronterawas so amused with itself that it never changed, never developed, but simply went on and on. After some twenty minutes it was only mildly funny, and after that, not very interesting . A regular class period's lengthfifty minutes-was too long by half for this lesson. Larry Miller's Discourse was equally over-long, an hour and a half anthology of unrelated skits stuck together in no particular order. Miller appeared as "himself ," talking to the audience in a casual "oh, you're here too" manner, and served up thoughts on a number of topics. Fortunately , Miller showed an easy ability to pull off semi-improvised chatter with a lot of off-hand humor so that the commentary was less a lecture than a free-associating comic monologue. This "discourse " was illustrated with some wellmade , striking props: flashing neon signs ("DREAM/DON'T DREAM"), a gigantic fan blade, angel wings for humans, "death caps" to make audible the sound of dying (cloth caps with audio speakers attached). But these engaging assets were offset by the rambling nature of the piece as a whole, and by the run-on structuring of some of the individual sequences, notably a lengthy film which exhausted Leslee 15roersma 33 Discourse on All and Everything (Miller) the slight joke of treating a gorilla as a human being. The in-joke references to the art world and its politics were a further deficit, and so were the constant referrals to the lack of rehearsal and the inevitable technical foul-ups (they did happen). Another section, a slide sequence showing closeups of scars and wounds of Bowery derelicts made me uncomfortable not only because it was extremely distasteful to watch, but because it was just there in a sort of innocence, as if sincerity ("I saw this") were enough. The strength of Discourse, its low-key fantasy atmosphere , slowly dissipated in such sour clouds. By contrast, Ralston Farina's Aleatoireje Ne Sais Quoi was a briefer, more related collection of bits, the whole kept in energetic motion by Farina's fast pacing and nimble comic timing. Many of the skits 34 AleatoireJe Ne Sais Quoi (Farina) were organized around magic tricks, such as an ESP segment in which he reproduced the images drawn by selected audience members on unseen sketch pads. Others were built around other on-thespot drawing efforts: his attempt to trace separate and moving projected transperencies which was followed by a lottery ("random drawings for random drawings "). These acts were all performed with panache...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 33-34
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.